by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- 4-H livestock rearing projects teach youth about the livestock business first-hand. Each student keeps a detailed record of the costs of his/her project and the labor that is required. Not only is the student responsible for the entire process of raising the animal, but s/he must spend time nearly every day with it, teaching it how to behave during a show. There are very specific rules which must be followed.
For each species sold at the 4-H livestock sale, there is an initial bidding contest for the base value of the meat, referred to as the “floorplan.” We’ll refer to the winner of the floorplan bid as the floorplan man. When someone wants to encourage the student and show appreciation for the work of raising the animal, they bid above the floorplan price. In this way, the student receives a premium price for their animal.
If the successful bidder wants to keep the animal, they pay their bid plus the floorplan. If a bidder does not want to keep the animal, they pay the difference between the floorplan price and their bid, which is basically a gift to the student who raised the animal. The floorplan man then buys the animal. Particularly in the case of smaller animals, like turkeys, chickens and rabbits, it is not unheard of for a successful bidder to give the animal back to the student who raised it.
According to Marvin Davis, sale manager, two supporters of note are Louis Vezzani and Pat McConnell. Vezzani has been the floorplan man for the hog sale for thirty-five years, and 4-H students speak of him with high regard. As one put it, “He’s never missed a sale.” McConnell has been a strong supporter of 4-H for about ten years. Davis added that Sporleder Feeds has given steady support as a buyer.
As early as April, students choose their next project animal. So a student can be starting one project and finishing another. The Huerfano County Fair allows a student to sell a maximum of two animals during its livestock sale. And there are ambitious students who do complete two or more 4-H projects in a year.
The local 4-H groups are hoping for good attendance at the sale this year, to be at 2 pm Sunday at the fairgrounds in La Veta. Anyone can bid on the livestock – it’s a great opportunity for local businesses and individuals to encourage the 4-H students and support the ag community. The livestock fair is often the culmination of over a year’s worth of work for these students, and they are to be commended for the discipline and effort it takes to see a project through to completion.